Eric Anthony Rodriguez

Eric Anthony Rodriguez

All of us are spending much more time at home now that Florida has an official stay-at-home order. I have read that many people are feeling extremely bored at home. Thankfully, the Internet has not crashed from all of the extra shows and movies being streamed into our homes. I think I would rather be bored than to have the excitement that many in our state are currently experiencing.

My nephew, who lives in South Florida, is awaiting his test results to determine if the cough and fatigue he was experiencing was due to COVID-19. He works at a hospital, and he won’t know his test results for three days. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to think you might have the possibly lethal virus that is sweeping the world right now, and to have to wait three long days to know for sure. His predicament reminded me of Tom Petty’s song “The Waiting.” I know I would be unable to focus or to enjoy myself until I knew if I had the Coronavirus.

Besides being worried about himself, my nephew also has to consider when and how to tell everyone he has come in contact with that he thinks he has COVID-19. I think it would be wise for him to wait until he knows for sure before sending all of his co-workers, family and friends into a panic. Each one of those folks would then have to self-isolate and possibly also be tested for the virus. This scenario of testing and isolation is becoming common in the South Florida area, so much so that many states are requiring travelers from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

North Florida is not immune to the cycle of testing and isolation. A friend of mine who works at a hospital in Jacksonville has been told that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 by a co-worker who has tested positive. Surprisingly, instead of being told to stay home, the hospital has said to continue working under the existing protocols unless a fever or other symptom manifests itself. That seems insane until you realize the extreme nursing shortage that is being exacerbated by the Coronavirus. If all of the nurses who might have been exposed stayed home, who would take care of the massive influx of patients with COVID-19?

Even our small county has nearly 20 confirmed cases as of Sunday. That number will almost certainly be higher by the time you are reading this. I am glad that the CDC has requested that masks be worn as an extra precaution while in locations where social distancing is difficult. This will hopefully encourage more people to wear masks. I had to go to several hardware stores in our area for some plumbing supplies. Only about half of those shopping were taking the recently recommended step of covering your face. I am hopeful that my friend and my nephew will either not have the virus or will not suffer serious complications from it. Their experiences have caused me to take social distancing more seriously than I otherwise might have. Stay safe out there.

Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at

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